I left you as I was drifting off to sleep in a tent of 40 people, all in various states of dampness, annoyance, discomfort and oblivion. The charismatic gentleman who had been making me laugh with his attempts to marry me all night was still talking to the lady next to him. Clearly she was more susceptible. However given my sleeping abilities, I'm immune to most things but voices, so I was ready to brain them with a heavy object. Where's a tent hammer when you need one?
Sadly though my consciousness was awake, it would have required effort to move and I was fairly incapable to be honest. I was snug, surprisingly comfortable and actually happy to drift in and out of sleep. Mild guilt had kicked in about my quiet adorable music man, whose sleeping bag I'd taken; not to mention I'd recalled the girl guide admonitions about the only way of preventing hypothermia.
I was then diverted afresh, chuckling at the memories of a certain Duke of Edinburgh expedition up into the Welsh Black Mountains. One of the young army guides there had offered to demonstrate the efficacy of sharing a sleeping bag, much to the annoyance of my lovely friend Gill. My 15 year old self was having inward gleeful hysterics at this repeat of such an event. I could see and sense him shifting, so I did the natural thing and offered him a spot under his own covers next to me...frankly, in a life of erotic encounters it was a highlight of innocent warmth. You try being anything but whilst wearing five layers!
After an hour or so of actual sleep, and thoroughly gentlemanly behaviour - and no I'm not so naïve that perhaps he expected more - with all risk of hyperthermia averted, someone had had the foresight to set an early morning alarm. A persistent bastarding alarm. I mean, the risk of all of us oversleeping was clearly an issue because we all had places to be. And by this time the chatty gentleman and his lady were utterly passed out whilst the tent came alive around them but they remained out for the count. How is this ever fair?!
After realising quite how wet everything was in the cold soaked light of day, I gave up worrying and threw revolting duvet, mat and everything into my rucksack. That was a problem to deal with later when I got home! We abluted as best we could and then Maria and I went in search of tea and the bathrooms. The night had definitely taken its toll on the 2 toilets but never mind, the sun was out and people were already on klapa and breakfast rakija shots. It was rather pleasant stuff. I'm thinking that the term continental breakfast will never have the same meaning again. I can only admire such constitutions... especially as these guys would later run past me down the hillside. Hardcore fitness and punishment.
After a chaser of a nut and cereal bar, and more sweet herbal tea, with a wander round the packing up camp, we decided which routes we would be taking to Komiša. Maria wisely opted for the route around Hum, and I went for the harder trek over the top. My walking companions from the previous day said that the view from the top was spectacular so that was that. We set off at about nine and the shaky head and legs magically cleared as the blood started pumping. The conviviality from the previous day was undiminished and the views astonishing; the island light after the night's storm had made the landscape glow. Perhaps I'm unqualified to comment because I was high on lack of sleep and unaccustomed 'continental breakfast'. Reaching the summit of Hum with my new found friends was a lovely experience and there is even a photo to prove that I wasn't hallucinating the view. One of the ladies was celebrating her 60th birthday - 'Sretan rodendan' - And I couldn't think of a better place to be.
The descent began as the day got hotter and we discussed wildlife; the snakes and lizards, black pines and all the different shrubs, and generally comparing the different nature and character of the various islands. Although they are all broadly similar to the untrained eye, they have their own dialects, peculiarities and micro climates. Darko - nicknamed Bili because of his white hair, bright blue eyes and pale skin - spends much of his winters wandering around Brač so I hope at some point to head over there and do some walking with a local. The derelict vine terraces on the way down were melancholy reminders of the island's recent history. Years ago a vine plague decimated the viticulture here, and many people left the island in search of a better life. Although there is the odd bit of replanting and restoration, the state of the neglected land and terracing means that large amount of hard work and investment would be required. Just don't tempt me...
We finally met other people as we ambled into the sleepy town. He pointed out curious sites; a large house split down the middle shared a window. But the two owners, clearly of a contrary nature, decided to make each side of the window their own - different frame, shutters, pane size. This sharing of buildings often comes about here when parents die and property is shared between siblings and their families. The pretty town was full of Venetian architectural detail and I was happy to gaze at it with a coffee and chocolate biscuit. We were joined by his family group and had a lovely chat until we were driven by hunger to find lunch.
By this time Maria and I were reunited and we headed down to the only hotel in town where large portions of bean and sausage stew with massive hunks of bread were being administered to hungry walkers. We sat with more old friends and laughed about our evening, shared our different walking stories, and obviously there were photos of my hamster cheeks. We were famished. The glorious little beach at the hotel was full of our hiking people and we could have stayed for hours. Sadly there were buses back to Vis town after lunch and so we headed to the meeting point.
I was happy to collapse with other overpartied and exhausted hikers when we arrived. I rejoined the Bosnians for some serious amounts of idling in the sunshine as we waited the few hours for the ferry. The enterprising charismatic gentleman was in full flow again as his friend strummed his guitar; I'm sure he was used to being pimped out! They laughed and joked at other hikers passed by, and pebbles, bits of paper, a pine cone and tiny coins were dropped in his hat. His gleeful dance when actual kuna appeared was hysterical. By this time more beer had appeared and it was all getting hazy again. I've never experienced being part of something like that but it seemed a perfectly normal thing to do that weekend. The fact these guys had another 6 hours on the road when they got to Split made me boggle...not to mention the amount of beer they were getting through.
Some people questioned my ability to do simply relax and nothing whilst I was here, but I'm currently stunned at the speed of my mastery of the art. Watching the world go by to the sound track of waves, music, voices, and the honk and rumble of the odd boat is as rewarding as any work or study. It's as if I've been saving all my free time over the past few year and I'm bingeing on its seemingly limitless supply.